The Covid-19 pandemic has lead to a hard lock down in South Africa with all schools closed since March 18th 2020. Most children in South Africa rely on 2 nutritious meals at school to survive and thrive. This project will fill the school meal gap with providing meals to these pupils' households through community based nutrition programmes.
In South Africa, an estimated 10 million learners depend on receiving meals at their schools to ensure their cognitive and physical development. For many children, these were the only meals they had before returning to food insecure households in marginalized communities. On March 15th, South Africa announced the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic as a National Disaster and closed all schools on 18th March. Since then, unemployment spiked and hunger & malnutrition are drastically on the rise.
With the peak of the pandemic only anticipated in September, learners are going back to school from June in a phased approach, starting with grades 7 and 12. We have restructured our feeding program and identified central drop off points in the rural communities we serve for children and caretakers to collect dry food items and cooked meals. We have 17 000 learners on our nutrition program and are trying to feed them and their families during the extended lock down and school closure period.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused havoc in the under-resourced, poor communities in South Africa. With over 40% unemployment rate in many Districts, it will take months for households to be able to put regular meals on the table again. The stunting rate for children under the age of 6 was 25% before the national lockdown and a sharp spike is to be expected. It will take years for the 10 Million children depending on school meals to catch up with their nutrition status, development and growth.